Brenda Nicholson

The Secret to Motivation has been Around for Fifty Years, and No One Told Us

Spoiler alert: don’t get your hopes up.

I’m in a bad mood. It’s been a few days now. All I want to do is sit and be depressed.

I was researching self-care when I found an article in the New York Times written by an executive coach.

He quoted a couple of psychologists, and at first, it seemed legit.

But the more I thought about it, the more it began to smell.

The last few years have given us the gift of rest. So much so that we are now “languishing.” We feel unmotivated and sluggish.

The answer to this is “behavioral activation, first proposed by psychologist Peter Lewinsohn in the seventies for people who had depression or were just in a bad mood.

Behavioral activation lets your feelings be what they are (crappy) while you do what you have to do anyway.

Isn’t that what your mom told you when you said you didn’t “feel like” doing something? Or what going to work is most days? It’s kind of life, right?

Lewinsohn’s idea was that getting up and being active would change your mood.

But what if it doesn’t? Do we take solace because we are still productive despite being miserable? That’s not the life any of us should aspire to.

I confess that I did accomplish what I needed today, even though I thought it was useless.

I did not feel motivated, nor did I feel any better when I was done. The article made some good points but didn’t need the psychological terms. Nike does it in three words.

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